Private funeral, public memorial later set for Joseph Lowery

A small, private funeral service for the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery will be held this week out of concerns about the coronavirus, but a large public memorial for the civil rights leader will be held this fall, family members said Tuesday.

This week's private service will include 10 family members, Lowery's daughter, Cheryl Lowery, said Tuesday. Specific details of the private service are not being made public.

Keeping people safe is the most important thing at this time as the world battles the coronavirus, said Cheryl Lowery, who is president and CEO of The Joseph & Evelyn Lowery Institute.

FILE - In this May 1970 file photo, Leonard Woodcock, newly elected president of the United Auto Workers Union, in glasses and dark suit, locks arms with Coretta Scott King, wife of slain the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery as they lead several thousand marchers past the state Capitol in Atlanta in a protest march against war, violence and racial repression. Lowery, a veteran civil rights leader who helped the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and fought against racial discrimination, died Friday, March 27, 2020, a family statement said. He was 98. (AP Photo, File)

“Our family has just simply been blown away by the outpouring of love and support for my father and his legacy that has come from actually around the world,” Cheryl Lowery said.

Lowery, who helped the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. establish the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, died Friday. He was 98.

Once the nation gets through the virus crisis, a public memorial service is planned for Oct. 6, which would have been Lowery's 99th birthday. Details are still being worked out.

“We know that our country and our world are going to get through these tragic times and when we do, we will honor Dr. Lowery and his legacy together as a community in a manner that he deserves," Cheryl Lowery said.

Lowery loved to celebrate, and the October memorial will be a time of celebration, family spokesman Imara Canady said.

“So we felt it would be a great opportunity to bring the global community together to lift him up at a time of celebration that he so enjoyed," Canady said.

Lowery led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for two decades. Former President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.